Route: Market Square to Damme loop
Distance: 11 miles (almost 18 km)
The center of this small Belgian port town is a web of winding streets and canals said to be the best-preserved medieval city in Europe. To see it by bike, rent one at the train station or at the Bauhaus Hotel near the city center for about $12 per day. Every tour of Bruges should start at the leaning bell tower that has loomed over Market Square since 1300. (There are 366 steps up to the top leave your bike behind, obviously but the views are worth it.) Head south on Blinde-Ezelstraat (Blind Donkey Street), which takes you under a vaulted passageway, across a canal and past the fish market. Turn down the Dijver and bike along the canal, past a weekend flea market and the Groeninge Museum, one of Belgium's major art museums, which houses a good collection of works by Flemish masters. Take a left on Mariastraat, and you will see the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady), which dates back to the 13th century; the altarpiece is Michelangelo's famed sculpture Madonna and Child. Continue south on Katelijinestraat and take a right on Wijingaardstraat to the tranquil grounds of the Begijnhof convent, then onto Minnewater, the former inner harbor that is now a beautiful lake. From there, it's a 4-mile (just over 6 km) trek northeast along a canal path to the town of Damme (pop. 10,000). Hungry? Refuel at any of the more than two dozen restaurants here our favorite is Restaurant De Lieve. Should you overindulge, there are boats for the return trip to Bruges.
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